Working to reduce resistant infections globally

Ben Howden, Dept of Microbiology & Immunology, discusses the Fleming Fund Fellowship Program - and how Fellows are addressing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) on an international scale.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) is global concern and is a leading cause of death around the world. Antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective - drug-resistance is spreading, leading to more infections that are difficult to treat and more deaths.

Antimicrobial expert, Ben Howden is the Program Director for the Fleming Fund Fellowships Program and Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Antimicrobial Resistance, based at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection & Immunity. He guides a team of over 50 mentors who in turn mentor Fellows of the Fleming Fund. Fellowships offer on-the-job training, mentoring and professional development to Fellows to enhance their skills and contribute to the threat of antimicrobial resistance response back home. This training includes short multi-week placements across antimicrobial stewardship, laboratory and genomics teams.

As a host institution under the Fleming Fund, the Doherty Institute has run programs in Bhutan, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste since 2018 and has supported almost 60 Fellows since it started.

Ben, who also heads up the Howden Research Group (Dept Microbiology & Immunology), which focuses on the fields of pathogen genomics and antimicrobial resistance, says the Fellows learn hands-on practical skills around data collection, generation, analysis and reporting for public health and clinical use.

Fellows are professionals – leaders and institutions - working in relevant areas to address AMR, such as microbiology laboratories, hospitals, Ministries of Health, Agriculture and surveillance teams. They have a training work plan based on their individual and beneficiary institution needs and undertake some of their training here in Melbourne.

Image: Howden Research Group

The Program is funded through The Fleming Fund – a UK aid investment set up to tackle resistance across 24 low- and middle-income countries globally.

More on the Fleming Fund Fellowships